What the Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh Should Mean for All of Us

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We at Anera are deeply saddened and angered by the brutal killing this week of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin. Abu Akleh was a pioneer of her generation. And for our Palestinian colleagues, she has been one of the most trusted voices broadcasting news covering their lives and plights, and highs and lows.

Many of Anera’s Palestinian staff feel the killing is close to home. “The murder of Shireen feels very personal to me and to every Palestinian. She has been in our living rooms for many years, reporting from Palestine. My heart breaks,” one colleague from Jerusalem told us.

Abu Akleh’s death is the most recent, visible and heinous case of deadly violence in Palestine. Abu Akleh, prominent as she was, is but one of at least 53 Palestinians killed amid unrest and targeted violence in the West Bank this year. Her death brings a deep chill to those who struggle for human development.

Our colleagues living in the West Bank check the news every day to gauge the risk of facing everpresent anti-Palestinian violence on the road to their offices or project sites. Often staff have had to postpone work activities due to dangers on the road from attacks or the potential of attacks. The overall insecurity further deepens Palestinians’ worry for their kids’ safety and future.

Especially troublesome is the long-term pattern of physical and administrative attacks on the press and transparency. Abu Akleh’s killing came on the anniversary of last May’s Israeli bombing of a building that housed the Associated Press and Al Jazeera’s offices in Gaza. Israeli bombs also destroyed or severely damaged the offices of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and the Qatar Red Crescent Society, two organizations, like Anera, providing life-saving and life-affirming humanitarian assistance.

Amid all this, it is hard to feel hope for a future based on fundamental human rights. With Abu Akleh’s death, and when we see Ramadan worshipers harassed and casket-bearers in the Christian Quarter of the Old City bludgeoned with police truncheons, it is hard not to feel that we are moving in the opposite direction to where we should be going.

Anera’s mandate is to deliver aid and development programs to vulnerable communities and populations. These events and new Israeli restrictions on movement will make this work more difficult, but Anera will continue to deliver impactful programs done against all the odds.

Shireen Abu Akleh gave her life to reporting the truth that the Palestinians live and the day-to-day reality and dehumanization of the occupation. We honor her here at Anera by staying the course, working to support those we serve and making a lasting difference in their lives, and keeping hope alive for a much better future of dignity and humanity for all.

Shireen Abu Akleh at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem (CNN photo)
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